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Notes on the Job Market.

Because people have been asking me how it went and, more importantly, what those-soon-to-be-on-the-market should be considering and looking out for as they put themselves in circulation in about 6 months from now, and because I have been asked to say a few words about it on the blog, I am writing with a few thoughts. (Is that not the most Henry-James-like opening sentence ever?).

Homework for the Summer Before:
Get your CV, writing sample, and web-presence read by August 15. Yes, you should probably have some kind of website. Even I, of minuscule technological capacity (compared to most of you all), had a website; well, actually a blog-site that I configured like a website. I have to thank Krista for this! She was the encouragement and the provider of the initial idea. It is a good idea to have one because you can put all of your material online (as PDFs), and many schools will just refer to that rather than have you send paper copies of your portfolio. Because mine is so low-tech and a bit clunky, it might not be the model for what to do, but I am including the link, just to give you some ideas.


If you have a web-presence though, keep in mind that all of the schools will see it. This can be awkward if you are marketing yourself differently to different schools – meaning, if you are going for STC jobs (in English Departments), Rhetorical History jobs (in Comm. Studies), and Women’s Studies jobs. But this might not be the case for everyone; I marketed myself mostly the same for all the jobs on my list.

You want to get your CV and teaching material up online (or at least samples of teaching material you are proud of—or, in my case, not too embarrassed by). I had a picture of me, because I thought it would seem suspicious not to, but this is something you should talk to others about.

Writing Samples & Pubs
The writing sample, in my opinion, should be taken from your dissertation project (an actual chapter or what might become an actual chapter). It should provide a solid introduction, or even a glimpse into, your project and the major areas of your research. For example, my chapter was on the visual rhetoric and embodied practices of the anatomy lab, offering a brief overview of one major argument in my dissertation. This does not tell them everything about my research but it does clue them in to issues that are important to me now and probably in the future – my interest in medicine, in visual representation, in anatomy and the body, in ethnography, in material and embodied rhetoric, etc.

I did not put the writing sample online, because if you want to get it published later some journals might consider it previously in published.

Also, I think if you are going to send something off for publication, do it before September 1, that way you can have something under review in the publication section of your CV. If you already have one or more publications, there might not be a need to push the next one out, if you don’t feel the contractions. Do you need a publication? I don’t know. I think some more research-heavy jobs would want that, but I’m not sure.

Start by Shopping and Thinking:
Also, this summer start investing in “career-wear? that is warm enough for MLA interviews (though it is in SF in 2008!) and campus visits. You will need enough professional clothes to last for about three days of MLA and 2 days of campus visits. Guys, that means more than one suite or suit-type arrangement (I got one suite and then two suit separates: dark blue, grey, and black).

Lastly, I think it is good—and fun—to start thinking now about who you want to be and where you want to end up. Maybe even write/blog/journal about it some (That is so “writing studies? of me to say).

What type of jobs do you want: ones that are more research-heavy or teaching-heavy or somewhere in between? What type of school are you looking for: R1, liberal arts, large, small, urban, rural, college-town-feel? Where do you want to live (I mean areas of the country)? What do you want to teach? What might be your next project, and what resources might you need for that? What type of career do you want to have – be a heavy-hitter, a mover-and-shaker, or someone happily not-in-direct-sunlight? Do you want to be in an already developed program or one just starting out? Are you interested in being involved in a program-building-situation that will ask/allow you to design new courses and new curricula?

The most important part of this exploration is just to see what comes up. After all, you will not know the answer to these questions until you are in the middle of the job search—at least that was the case with me. I finally knew what I thought about most of these questions only after I had to start making final decisions.


Good summation of months and months of work Kenny. I just wanted to second the point of having your materials ready *before* you begin your job search.

In my case, I was attempting to get my prospectus written, teach a new class, and get my job materials ready, all at the beginning of September and, to put it bluntly, it just didn't happen. Job searching a full-time job. If, like me, you're going to be marketing yourself this fall, do yourself a favor and get as much ready during the summer as you can: generic cover letter, CV, teaching portfolio, etc.

Finally, I would highly recommend to anyone that they talk to Kenny or Salma, as their input on my job search materials were invaluable.


If you want a Web presence but want to adapt it for each place to which you apply, you could create an electronic portfolio presentation. Check portfolio.umn.edu. You can keep things confidential, share them when you wish and in ways that you prefer. It offers a lot more control than you have with a public web space.